About dengue fever
Dengue fever (also known as breakbone fever) is a viral illness transmitted by a type of mosquito called Aedes mosquitoes. It's found in many countries throughout the world, and is particularly common in South-East Asia, India, the Caribbean, South and Central America, and Africa. If you are living in or travel to one of these areas and don't protect yourself against mosquito bites, you may be at risk of catching dengue fever.
Find out current information on risk of dengue fever in a specific country here (link: http://www.nathnac.org/ds/map_world.aspx
Complications of dengue fever
Dengue fever can sometimes develop into a more serious illness called dengue haemorrhagic fever. You are unlikely to get this condition if you are just visiting areas where the disease is common (eg South-East Asia and India). Children under 15 who live in countries where the dengue fever virus is widespread, and people who are infected more than once with different forms of the virus, are more likely to develop dengue haemorrhagic fever.
If you have dengue haemorrhagic fever, you may have bleeding under your skin, from your gums, and from your nose. You may also vomit blood or pass blood in your faeces. If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor.
In more severe cases of dengue haemorrhagic fever, the condition can suddenly worsen and lead to shock (dengue shock syndrome). You may develop severe pain in your abdomen (tummy), keep vomiting, feel irritable and your temperature may suddenly drop. Dengue shock syndrome can be life threatening without proper medical treatment. If you have any of these symptoms, you must seek urgent medical attention.
Causes of dengue fever
Dengue fever is caused by a type of virus called a flavivirus, which is transmitted by infected female Aedes mosquitoes. You can catch the virus if you are bitten by an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they bite an infected person and are able to pass on the virus for the rest of their life (two to three months).
There are four different, but closely related forms (serotypes) of the flavivirus that cause dengue fever. Once you have been infected by one form of the virus you're immune against that form for the rest of your life. However, infection with one form of the virus doesn't protect you against catching one of the other three forms. If you're infected a second time, you will be at greater risk of developing dengue haemorrhagic fever.